We recently witnessed the marvelous achievement of China building a hospital in under ten days. How did they do it? Can India do it if necessary? These certainly are intriguing questions that call for an appraisal on ‘What is the current state of construction technology that makes such feats possible?’
But, a little introduction first!
The AEC industry is one of the significant sectors to support the development of any country. In developing countries such as India, the housing requirement fuels the economy.
Technological advancements and scientific discoveries (like any other field) influenced architecture greatly. After the industrial revolution, new (modern) materials such as Glass, Steel, and Concrete emerged. Such progress affects people’s lives and their lifestyle choices. This, in turn, influenced how architecture is practiced, perceived, and understood by its inhabitants.
Today, we present to you five technologies that will influence your architectural practice in India.
1. Better Visualizations
Gone are the days when we had to depend only on rendered images to communicate our design intent. With an accelerated race happening in the field of Visualization, Photogrammetry, and Cinematography, one can almost live in a VDE (virtually designed environments).
VDE enables us to visualize and comprehend the spatial configuration of an architectural space while in the design phase. With the current technology of ray-traced rendering, one can expect hyper-realism in addition to immersive environments. Popular industry-standard software for VR/AR includes Unity 3D, Unreal Engine, Twinmotion, Lumion, etc.
The name prefabrication says it all. Construction is planned in such a way that the individual components can be manufactured at a centralized factory. These are then transported and assembled on-site. One of the highest advantages of Prefab structures is that it requires minimal time for assembly, as compared to building in-situ.
Steel construction is one of the popular options in Pre-Fab, for its simplicity in assembling (bolt and nuts) and for its dis-assembly. These structures can be dismantled on a later stage, to either rebuild elsewhere or to recycle/ reuse the parts. Steel Prefabrication probably is one of the commercially available sustainable building methods as of today.
3. Computational Design & Optimization
Computational Design & Optimization are new fields in architecture that are set out to dominate the industry in the upcoming years. Optimization (to optimize something) generally uses a computer programmed set of instructions to calculate and arrive at the best conditions for a building. Computation deals with the calculated generation of the designs based on these algorithms for architectural purposes.
Both fields have numerous applications in the AEC industry. Some of these include improvement of living conditions, decrement in construction or running costs, decrease heating and lighting costs, and increase solar efficiency. These goals are usually achieved via adapting the structure to its environment. Popular tools for Computational Design include Grasshopper 3D, Dynamo, and Marionette.
4. Smart Architecture
IoT (Internet of Things) plays a vital role in the development of Smart Cities. Simply put, IoT helps control and coordinate various electrical and electronic appliances. How does this help our field? I want a bit of your imagination here. In a situation of emergency, streetlamps can function as wayfinding aids. Wouldn’t it might avoid massive chaos and panic if simply following a specific color of lights (say red) leads to reach a safer place?
This is one of the applications of IoT in Architecture. Smart Architecture when used in a large scale environment, encompasses Lighting, Security Cameras, Water Supply, Electricity Supply, Traffic Analysis, and Control. Within a building, it might be used to control the Heating, Lighting & Shading, Water Supply, Elevators, etc.
5. AI & ML
Complementing the IoT technology, AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning) is currently playing a significant role in the field of automation. Wonder how Alexa can control your lighting and curtains? A combination of IoT (Curtain Motors / Light bulbs) and AI + ML (Voice recognition, Behavioral Patterns, etc.) help to achieve what Alexa does.
But AI has many more applications too. Currently, AI enables the usage of Robots and Drones for construction. This would need the machine to not only perform a task, but also self monitor the work, and adapt itself to on-site situations. This is where ML kicks in. Unquestionably, this would mean many of us are on the brink of unemployment, as the Construction sector steps into the era of automation.
6. 4D Modelling
BIM (Building Information Modelling) is an upcoming sub-field that specializes in smart modeling. BIM software does everything a usual software does, plus more. A BIM model is also referred to as a 4D model, one in which the factor of time is involved, enabling stage-wise project scheduling.
One of the advantages is that a BIM model captures additional data, along with the 3D geometry. One can know the exact quantity of materials, resources required for each stage of construction synchronous to any modifications. Including visualizations at every step, design and development become much faster.